The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age
The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age is a 2004 Role Playing Game (RPG) by EA for Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Gameboy Advance. You have a core group of characters that you adventure with, leveling up according to experience gained from battles and quests. The game was released to mixed reviews.
In the game, the player takes the control of a Gondorian guard, Berethor. In search of Boromir, son of Denethor II, he will find companions and form a fellowship. In this game, Gandalf is, in fact, the tutor of Berethor.
Though the fellowship of Gandalf and that of Berethor will rarely meet, they will live rather similar events, as the fellowship of Gandalf. They will go to Rivendell, Lothlórien, Osgiliath, Minas Tirith and Moria, among others.
The Lord Of the Rings:The Third Age is, unlike the other games based of the world of Tolkien, a Role-Playing Turn-Based game. The characters can swap clothes, weapons, armors which they collect after fights of buy from Shops found of their journey.
The game also includes an evil side for each area where you can fight as the scripted (not random) enemies and win unique and often powerful items for your team.
- Play on the side of light or shadow. In an adventure that intersects the main plot points of the film trilogy, battle on the side of the Fellowship in their quest to save Middle-earth or unlock the evil missions where you fight on the side of Sauron.
- Deep gameplay that expands all three films. Travel to familiar and unfamiliar places such as the Mines of Moria, Helm’s Deep, Pelennor Fields, Minas Tirith, and a host of unexpected locations like the White Mountains Plains.
- Customize your hero or villain: Upgrade your character with an in-depth skill tree system where you can acquire unique skills in melee combat, ranged weaponry, defense, and magic.
- Discover a vast array of weapons, armor and clothing, and other Middle-earth items.
- Free-roaming gameplay. Explore, take on side quests, and uncover secret characters to join your party, or special weapons and items to boost your existing characters.
- Fight alongside or against key characters from The Lord of the Rings such as Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, Eowyn, and the Balrog.
- New user-controlled cameras keep players aware of everything around them.
- Voiceover from the original actors and assets from all three The Lord of the Rings films.
The plot of The Third Age involves Berethor, Captain of the Citadel Guard of Gondor, who is traveling to Rivendell to find Boromir, one of the nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring. On his way to Rivendell, he is attacked by a group of Ringwraiths and almost killed, but is rescued by a female elf named Idrial, who is a servant of Galadriel. They share a vision of Gandalf, who tells them that Boromir is traveling with the Fellowship, and that they are headed in the direction of Moria. On Berethor's way to Moria, he meets with Elegost, a Dúnedain Ranger not entirely unlike Aragorn. Following that, they meet with Hadhod, a dwarf who is also loosely based on Gimli. After Boromir's death, the group is charged with helping what is left of the Fellowship to save the world of men in Middle-earth. In another change to the plotline, they help Gandalf to slay the Balrog at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. They continue through the land of Rohan, meeting along the way Morwen, a lady of Rohan who has lost her family to Saruman's attacks, and Éoaden, a member of Théoden's Royal Guard. They arrive at Helm's Deep and aid Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli to fight off the Uruk-hai as they storm the fortress. After this they journey to Osgiliath, and with the help of Faramir, defeat Gothmog the orc commander, as well as several Ringwraiths, where a major spoiler is revealed. They eventually fight in Minas Tirith and finally help Éowyn defeat the Witch-king on the Pelennor Fields.
Berethor was banished from the realm of Gondor by Denethor after showing cowardice in a battle at Osgiliath. This cowardice was not his fault, as a Nazgûl stabbed him with a Morgul Blade, causing him to lose his mind and flee. He begins to remember it when Éaoden, who also fought at the battle, remembers him being there, and all the rest come to him in the presence of the Witch-king. A free wanderer, he came under the control of Saruman, who gave him orders to seek out Boromir, 'for he possesses an item of great value to me, the One Ring', to quote the game. Saruman deluded Berethor so that neither he nor the player of the game know that he is under Saruman's control until the Helm's Deep chapter, when Saruman is overthrown. Until this point however, there is absolutely no indication of this; Berethor behaves like a noble Gondorian, not one possessed by Saruman. This was criticised by many as an attempt to have another plot twist without fully working it into the game.
Morwen was originally a woman of Gondor. She was pledged to be married to a soldier (later revealed to be Berethor) but was banished to Rohan along with him and set up a new life in this kingdom. Chance reunites the two in the quest — about the only bit of romance in the game, although Berethor and Idrial kiss twice.
Hadhod's sons were killed by Trolls in Moria and he had a dream of once owning the fabled Mithril Warhammer of Helm Hammerhand, a king of Rohan who accepted this warhammer (though rarely used it) forged by the Dwarves as a sign of friendship between the people of Rohan and the Dwarves. Hadhod has since occasionally tried to find information about its resting place. Hadhod is in fact distantly related to Gimli, himself being a member of the Clan of Fundin, who was father to Balin and Dwalin.
List of Locations
- Eregion: The first location the company visits. It is the land next to Rivendell] on the way to the Misty Mountains. Some important sites to visit are the Elven outpost, the Elven sanctuary, and the Moria Western Gate.
- Western Moria: The group travels through the halls of Moria, intent on reaching Balin's Tomb, to meet up with the Fellowship.
- Eastern Moria: The group finds and escapes Balin's Tomb. They make for the Bridge of Khazad-dûm to escape, killing nine Trolls of Moria. The area is left after defeating the Balrog (with Gandalf's help).
- East Emnet Gullies: The group breaks upon this natural maze of rock. They proceed to find scattered Elf Scouts, who guard the borders of Rohan. The final battle is fought against a band of Uruk-hai Scouts who have captured a Rider of Rohan.
- Plains of Rohan: The challenges in this vast plain primarily involve finding Rohan Soldiers. Near the beginning, the player meets Morwen, a warrior searching for her family. Once the soldiers are gathered, they travel to the village of Snowbourne, which is besieged by Uruk-hai and Dunlending Wildmen. The party activates switches to open the gates. They find Gríma Wormtongue and do battle against him and his two Uruk Bodyguards. After traveling through a series of caves they find Morwen's family dead as well as the final party member, a Rohan Outrider named Éaoden. The "boss" is Sharku, commander of Isengard's Warg Riders.
- Helm's Deep: The area begins with the party talking to various members of the Fellowship. Once night falls, a series of lengthy battles begin with Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn, battling Uruks that are invading the keep. They do such things as help Legolas keep the wall free of Uruks, help Gimli defend the breach in the wall, and help Aragorn hold the main gate. The exit battle is fought against trolls and Uruk Berserkers. Once left, the area can't be restored to the daytime version.
- Osgiliath: The area begins with you fighting a series of set battles culminating with you fighting Gothmog, Orc commander, for the first time (with Faramir by your side). Then you set about helping out Faramir's Rangers who are ill equipped at this sort of fighting, You soon meet Gothmog again but Faramir is still by your side. Soon after this Idrial is kidnapped and dropped on an island in the middle of the Osgiliath river. The next part of the game shows Idrial fighting by herself and the other five fighting their way through the sewers to save her. In the end only Berethor can reach Idrial in time and they both fight the Witch-king, who has made a timely arrival to kill Idrial. During fighting, Berethor discovers he cannot hurt the Witch-king, as he still has a piece of Morgul Blade stuck inside him. After (painfully) removing it, the pair defeat the Witch-king and escape the city on a commandeered Orc landing raft.
- Minas Tirith: The party has finally reached the City of Kings, and just in time to fight the city's invaders. The party has to fight its way up the city levels to the Throne Room at the top, to recover the Banner of Elendil, to restore the morale of the defenders. Upon reaching the top level, the party witnesses Denethor (flaming) run screaming off the parapet. They then must fight the Witch-king again, with Gandalf's aid, to gain entry to the Throne Room. Inside the Throne Room, they fight a series of small battles with Orcs and Easterlings and finally retrieve the Banner, just in time for the Rohirrim to arrive on the Pelennor Fields, to save the day.
- Pelennor Fields: This area sees you fighting a new tougher type of orc and coming face to face with multiple mûmakil (at one point you have to face two at the same time). You aid Éowyn in fighting the dismounted Witch-king, and kill him. You also aid Aragorn fight off the remaining eight Nazgûl, with the help of the Army of the Dead. The final battle is even more non-canon than the rest: somehow the party has gotten to the top of Barad-dûr and must square off with the Eye of Sauron itself.
Deviations from the text
The story is intended to be original and as such is not canonical (However some Continuationists, a type of Tolkien fan who considers anything licensed by any official source to be canon, unless it greatly contradicts the books, consider it as such). Nonetheless, there are also some minor deviations such as Helm Hammerhand having a warhammer (in the books "Hammerhand" refers to his powerful fists.) and the use of the term "she-elf", which never appears in the books (though it is used to refer to Liv Tyler's Arwen in the films). Other errors include the pronunciation of "Dúnedain" as rhyming with "pain" — whereas it should rhyme with "dine", as Tolkien writes in one of his appendices, and the final battle with the Eye of Sauron, which follows the films as depicting Sauron as a physical flaming eye — which the book character was actually not (see Sauron and Eye of Sauron for details). Also there are spelling differences; Arnor appears as 'Anor' in some places. Kingsfoil and Athelas are suggested to be two separate things, but in the books they are two names for the same thing. Another notable change is the presence of trolls as opponents at the battle of helm's deep, there is no such occurrence in the books or films. Also, the presence of the party at key points, so they can participate in events which are in the books solo fights, or non-fights. The Balrog, The Witch-King of Angmar, and the Eye of Sauron are very guilty of this.
Various actors from Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings are also present in archive footage: Sean Astin, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Billy Boyd, Jed Brophy, Brad Dourif, Bernard Hill, Ian Holm, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen, John Noble, Miranda Otto, John Rhys-Davies, Andy Serkis, Harry Sinclair, Liv Tyler, Karl Urban, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham and Elijah Wood.
The story was not regarded as one of the game's finer points by many video game reviewers. However, the fact that the story was not more expansive or creative was due largely to the fact that the publisher and developer, EA Games, owned the rights to the The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and not the book of the same name - thus the only devices available to the creators were what could be found in the movies, or something in neither book nor movie. Thus everything had to, in some way, be tied to the movies in order to prevent a lawsuit from the owners of the rights to the book. Each of the game's main characters was based on a minor character or extra from the films The game's combat system was, by and large, very similar to Final Fantasy X's Conditional Turn-Based Battle System (CBT), where the players have turns in which they can attack. It also featured a 'level-up' system much akin to Final Fantasy X-2. Once again, some reviewers thought this to be derivative and unoriginal, while others welcomed a combat system like that in Square Enix's games. Either way, the game experienced minor success during the holiday season of 2004.
In other games
Hadhod, Berethor, Idrial and Morwen reappeared in The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II as homemade heroes. Berethor and Morwen are Heroes of the 'Men of the West', while Hadhod is the hero of the Dwarves and Idrial of the Elves:
- Berethor is a Captain of Gondor.
- Morwen is a Shieldmaiden of Rohan.
- Hadhod is a Dwarven Sage.
- Idrial is a female Elven Warrior.
The two other fellowship-members of The Third Age are not in the game; they can be made in the hero-builder, though the system is very limited.